GMU Salaries: Losing Ground - Part II
GMU Salary Growth and Salaries vs. Local Public School Teachers


Table 1 below shows the raises received by public school teachers in local school systems (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William Counties) over the period 2000-2004.

Table 1
Percentage Raises for Local Public School Teachers and GMU, 2000 – 2004

 
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
Arlington
3.0%
3.0%
3.7%*
2.0%
2.0%
Fairfax
2.0%
5.0%
3.0%
2.0%
2.0%
Loudoun
3.0%
3.2%
3.2%
3.2%
3.2%
Prince William
5.0%
4.0%
4.0%
3.0%

3.0%

George Mason
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
3.0%**

* Reported increase was 5.7%, but 2 percentage points of that increase was due to four days added to the teachers’ work calendar.
** Effective November 24, 2003.

As a basis for comparison, $10,000 at the beginning of the year 2000 would have grown to $11,446 for Arlington school teachers; $11,477 for teachers in Fairfax County; and $11,683 and $12,048 for teachers in Loudoun and Prince William Counties, respectively. The comparable figure for GMU is $10,532. Clearly GMU faculty are losing ground relative to their public school counterparts. It is important also to note that Fairfax County has announced a 7.1 percent increase for the 2004-2005 academic year and that the head of the Alexandria school board is getting a raise of 6.5 percent which is a harbinger of the size of the increase to be given to the staff and teachers.

The annual percentage increase, however, is just part of the pay raise package received by local school teachers. An important component of teacher’s pay increases is related to length of service. In addition to the annual percentage increase shown in Table 1, each year, a teacher’s salary is increased automatically by “degree steps,” as shown in Table 2 for Fairfax County teachers. The size of “degree step” increases is not trivial. For example, consider a teacher with a BA. The salary increase for the second year of service due to the degree step is $573 (Table 2, column 2, $37,460 minus $36,887); the raise for the third year of service increases to $1,500 (Table 2, column 2, $38,960 minus $37,460); and for the third year, the degree step increase is $1,556 ($40,516 minus $38,960), etc. As length of service increases, so does the size of the degree step. Had the “degree step” amounts shown in Table 2 been in place for the 5-year period 2000 through 2004, a teacher with a BA who started in the system in 1999 would have received a total increase due to degree steps alone of $5,291. Thus, automatic longevity increases and annual percentage raises have resulted in substantial raises in the pay of local school teachers while the pay of GMU faculty and staff has remained virtually stagnant. From Table 3, it is apparent that the salaries of public school teachers with even a BA or MA degree compare favorably with the pay of many GMU professors with comparable years of service.

Table 2
Fairfax County FY 2005 Teacher Salary Scale

Degree Step
(Years of experience)
BA

BA + 15
Credit Hours

BA + 30
Credit Hours
MA
MA + 30
Credit Hours
Doctorate
1
36,887
38,251
39,614
41,593
43,413
45,034
2
37,460
38,825
40,187
42,167
43,786
45,608
3
38,960
40,324
41,687
43,667
45,287
47,108
4
40,516
41,881
43,244
45,223
46,843
48,664
5
42,138
43,503
44,866
46,845
48,465
50,286
6
43,821
45,185
46,548
48,528
50,148
51,969
7
45,576
46,940
48,303
50,282
51,902
53,723
8
47,400
48,764
50,127
52,106
53,726
55,547
9
49,296
50,660
52,023
54,002
55,622
57,443
10
51,070
52,434
53,798
55,777
57,397
59,218
11
52,909
54,273
55,636
57,616
59,235
61,056
12
54,814
56,178
57,541
59,520
91,140
62,961
13*
56,787
58,151
59,514
61,493
63,113
64,934
14
58,604
69,968
61,331
63,310
64,930
66,751
15
60,479
61,844
63,207
65,186
66,806
68,627
16
62,415
63,779
65,142
67,121
68,741
70,562
17
64,412
65,776
67,139
69,119
70,738
72,559
18
66,473
67,837
69,201
71,180
72,799
74,621
19
68,600
69,965
71,328
73,307
74,927
76,748
20
70,796
72,160
73,523
75,502
77,122
78,943
Long 1**
74,939
76,918
78,538
80,359
Long 2**
76,383
78,362
79,982
81,803
Long 3**
77,856
79,836
81,455
83,276

* Maximum entry step.
** Eligibility for Longevity Step 1 is two years on step 20 plus a BA+30.
Eligibility for Longevity Step 2 is two years on Longevity Step 1.
Eligibility for Longevity Step 3 is two years on Longevity Step 2.

Table 3 contains information on levels of starting salaries of public school teachers. In the jurisdictions listed, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience receives a minimum of $34,742. This sum, though certainly meager given the cost of living in the Washington metro area, is greater than the starting salaries of some full-time new hires with doctoral degrees at GMU. In some GMU departments, salaries around $30,000 are being offered to new hires with doctorates. In the Fairfax County schools, a PhD with no experience will start out at $44,982 (Table 3). Thus, a deliberate effort should be made to raise the pay of those at GMU on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.

Table 3
Starting Salaries at Local Public Schools, 2000 – 2004

 
BA

BA + 15
Credit Hours

BA + 30
Credit Hours
MA
MA + 30
Credit Hours
Doctorate
Arlington
37,007
38,857
-----
40,800
42,840
44,982
Fairfax
35,813
37,137
38,461
40,382
41,955
43,723
Falls Church
35,363
37,443
-----
40,563
42,124
42,904
Loudoun
34,742
36,027
37,312
39,176
40,703
42,420
Prince William
35,455
36,485
-----
39,833
41,378
42,408

Although no one would argue that public school teachers have exactly the same professional responsibilities and duties as university faculty—school teachers spend much more time in the classroom, but typically do not engage in research and publication—the comparison is constructive nonetheless. There are important differences between university faculty and public school teachers, however, relevant to this comparison. Public school teachers are far more politically organized, more politically active, and more numerous than university faculty. The Virginia Education Association is an effective lobbying group representing the interests of Virginia’s public school teachers at the state level; at the local level of government, teachers’ associations are also active. If university faculty are to improve our salaries and economic status, we must effectively make our case to public policy makers about the critical need for generous support of higher education.

As faculty, we must become more engaged in the political process to achieve more equitable treatment for higher education. If we do not speak up and speak out for higher education, the economic status of university faculty will continue to erode over time. For college and university faculty, the organizational counterpart of the Virginia Education Association is the AAUP, the American Association of University Professors (www.aaup.org). Only a small number of GMU Faculty are currently AAUP members, and the same is true at other Virginia universities. Without membership and financial resources, the Virginia State AAUP and the national office can accomplish little on behalf of university faculty. Please consider joining the AAUP(www.aaup.org/membership/joinaaup.htm) organization and taking an active role in political advocacy for higher education in Virginia.

Return to Faculty Information Page